When we shop on Amazon, we’re used to clicking a few buttons on our search window before we even see any results: choose parameters like Amazon Prime delivery, four-star reviews and over, prices from lowest to highest, or color. This way, we’re not faced with far more options than we need. (Unless you’re keen on scrolling through 5,678 results on earbuds.) The final click is generally our payment terms, which are customizable.
In traditional car shopping, customers make one choice: a dealership. After they walk in the door, it’s expected that the salesperson will take a car the business has in stock and make it try to fit the shoppers’ needs. (Same goes with the loan). It sounds a bit backwards from the Amazon paradigm, doesn’t it? And how palatable is this purchase model for younger car shoppers used to ecommerce choices?
Increasingly, it’s not. New startups like Irvine, California-based AutoGravity are trying to emulate the Amazon model rather than the “two people walk into a dealership…” model. The company, which launched officially last year with investor backing from Daimler and Volkswagen Credit, claims it wants to revolutionize the way people buy cars, allowing them to find their ideal vehicle with just a few clicks.
“Our main goal, very simply, is to radically change the way people buy cars. When we do our job right, you’ll be able to use our app, find the car you want, find the financing, and walk into the dealership,” Jason Bonifay, AutoGravity’s chief technology officer, told Business Insider.
AutoGravity is app-based technology, so consumers can load it onto their smartphones and begin picking features – as they would on an Amazon search – to create their desired vehicle at their desired price. They can even use the car shopping app to prequalify for a loan before visiting a dealership, and choose from different loan options. So far, three million users have downloaded the app.
To provide the widest access to vehicles, AutoGravity partners with dealerships. The company says it has more than 2,200 dealership partners nationwide (including AutoNation and Fletcher Jones Auto Group). For the financing aspect, the company has forged lending partnerships with banks including U.S. Bank, TD Bank, and Santander.
The end result, according to the company, which is independent but has strong organizational ties with Daimler, is that car buyers – not dealers or finance companies – are in control of the buying and financing process at all times.